Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Randy Moss

Happy birthday to Randy Moss
Randall Gene Moss (born February 13, 1977 in Rand, West Virginia) is an American football wide receiver for the New England Patriots. He was drafted by the Minnesota Vikings in 1998, and played the first seven years of his career in Minnesota before a trade in 2005 brought him to the Oakland Raiders. On April 29, 2007, Moss was traded to the New England Patriots for a fourth-round draft pick. Moss holds the NFL single season touchdown reception record (23, set in 2007), and the NFL single-season TD reception record for a rookie (17, in 1998).

Moss's dream was to play for Notre Dame, but he also considered going to Ohio State, where his half-brother, Eric, had played offensive tackle. According to former Notre Dame head coach Lou Holtz, Moss was "the greatest high school athlete I had ever seen — a bigger Deion Sanders." After originally signing a letter of intent to play college football with Notre Dame in 1995, Moss took part in a racially-charged fight at his high school that left one person hospitalized. He entered a plea of guilty to battery, and received probation along with a 30-day suspended jail sentence. Notre Dame subsequently revoked his scholarship, but this did not stop another high-profile college football program from giving him a chance. Notre Dame officials suggested he attend Florida State due to the reputation of its coach, Bobby Bowden, for handling troubled players. However, because of his signed letter of intent at Notre Dame, the NCAA considered him a transfer student, which made him ineligible to play for the Seminoles in the 1995 football season. in his freshman season. While at Florida State, Moss ran a 4.25 40-yard dash, with only Deion Sanders being faster (4.23). Ultimately, Moss transferred to Marshall University, about an hour's drive from his home. Because Marshall was then a Division I-AA school, NCAA rules allowed him to transfer there without losing any further eligibility. In 1996, he set the NCAA Division I-AA records for most games with a touchdown catch in a season (14), most consecutive games with a touchdown catch (13), most touchdown passes caught by a freshman in a season (29), and most receiving yards gained by a freshman in a season (1709 on 78 catches), a record which still stands. Moss was also the leading kickoff returner in Division I-AA on the season, with 484 total yards and a 34.6 yard average. Marshall went undefeated and won the Division I-AA title in its last season before moving to Division I-A. In the 1997 season, Marshall's first in Division I-A, Moss and current New York Jets quarterback Chad Pennington were the centerpiece of an explosive offense that led the Thundering Herd to the Mid-American Conference title. Moss caught 25 touchdown passes that season, at the time a Division I-A record, and was a first-team All-American. For the season, he had 96 receptions for 1820 yards, and 26 touchdowns. He won the Fred Biletnikoff Award as the nation's leading wide receiver, and was a finalist for the Heisman Trophy (finishing fourth in the balloting, behind Ryan Leaf, Peyton Manning, and Charles Woodson, who won the award).

Moss left Marshall with 168 receptions for 3,467 yards and a school record 53 touchdowns.
During the 1998 NFL Draft, Moss, who was projected as a high first-round pick, was taken by the Minnesota Vikings with the 21st overall pick after a number of NFL clubs--even those in need of a WR--were concerned with Moss' well-documented legal problems.
In 1998, Moss helped the Vikings to become the number one ranked offense that season while they set a record for total points by a team. They finished with a 15-1 winning record and were poised to represent the NFC in the Super Bowl. However, the Atlanta Falcons stunned the Vikings by winning the NFC Championship Game 30-27 in overtime. At the end of the 1998 regular season, Moss was named a Pro Bowl starter and NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year for his rookie record 17 touchdown receptions and the third highest receiving yardage (1,313) total of 1998. On March 2, 2005, Moss was traded to the Oakland Raiders for linebacker Napoleon Harris and the Raiders' 1st round (7th overall, which Minnesota parlayed into WR Troy Williamson) and 7th round picks in the NFL draft. Adding a player of Moss's caliber generated a lot of optimism, but the Raiders' poor play continued after acquiring him. Nagging injuries limited his production, as well as what some saw as his unwillingness to play. Moss's own controversial remarks to the media drew more negative attention.
There were rumors leading up to the 2007 NFL Draft that the Patriots and Green Bay Packers were the two teams most interested in acquiring Moss. On April 29, 2007, the Raiders agreed to a trade with the New England Patriots, sending Moss to Foxborough, Massachusetts in exchange for a fourth-round selection (John Bowie), the 110th overall, in the 2007 NFL Draft (the same selection the Patriots acquired from the San Francisco 49ers during day one of the draft).

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